18th Meeting (and Annual General Meeting) of the Implement Petrology Group
held at St. Olave’s Church Hall, York
Saturday 11th & Sunday 12th January 2014 at 12 noon
Present: Vin Davis (Chair)(RVD), Torben Ballin (TB), David Field (DF), Chris Fowler (CF), Katie Kewley (KK), Mik Markham (MM), Alison Sheridan (JAS), Rosemary Stewart (RS), Peter Topping (PT) and Katharine Walker (KW).
Guests: Bernard Gilhooly (BG), Niamh Kelly (NK) and Brendan O’Neill (BO), doctoral researchers from University College, Dublin, to the Meeting.
Gabriel Cooney (GC) and Will Megarry (guest)(WM) contributed to part of the Meeting via a video-link.
Recent publications were tabled.
RVD welcomed the attendees. The attendees introduced themselves.
1. Apologies for absence:
Richard Bevins (RB) , Stephen Briggs, Steve Burrow, Peter Cherry, Tom Clare (TC), Tim Darvill (TD), Carol Dempsey, Mark Edmonds, Allison Fox, Jack Grasse, Mike Heyworth, Heather Jackson, Nicolas Le Maux, Frances Lynch, Steve Mandal, Jamie Quartermaine, Colin Richards, Fiona Roe, Gill Varndell (GV), Andy Young (AY).
2. New Format for the Annual General Meeting:
By way of experiment, a 2-day AGM/mini-conference format had been planned for the 18th Meeting.
3. Minutes of previous meetings:
3.1 The 17th Meeting: RVD explained that there were no Minutes to present for the 17th Meeting (18th May 2013) because it had been a one-day field visit to Grimes Graves (see Minute 4.5 below).
3.2 The Minutes of the 16th Meeting, York, 12 January 2012 and a note on the 15th Meeting, field trip to Great Langdale, 3 June 2012 (both previously circulated) – were approved, and signed by RVD.
4. Matters arising, not otherwise covered in the Agenda:
4.1 Item 3(i): following the circulation of the amended version on 20 January to all Members, and no objections having been received, the Revised Constitution was adopted.
4.2 Item 3(i): TD and GV were elected by a unanimous vote to Membership of the Executive Committee.
4.3 Item 3(iv): No action yet taken
4.4 Item 6.6.1 AY was thanked for circulating the appropriate information.
4.5 Item 7.1: PT, supported by DF and Dr Barry Bishop were all thanked for guiding this excellent field visit. PT explained that EH had given permission, possibly for the last time, to enter Greenwell’s Pit and explore this amazing site which is a real time capsule. It was the first flint mine to be recognised as such in the UK. Some of the Neolithic antler picks are still in situ; geological controls affecting mining the flint were recognised and investigated. Many surface depressions in the local area were visited and lengthy discussion focused on whether their origins were natural or in antiquity. Barry Bishop, who had recently been awarded a doctorate for his research on Grimes Graves, explained how his GPR and test-pitting has shown the huge potential that exists but is so far from being fully realised. Members and guests conjectured how the natural geological features may have been perceived and exploited in the Neolithic and how to positively identify what is natural, what is cultural and what the relationship is between the two. The organisers were thanked for a thoroughly enjoyable and informative visit.
5.1 Election of new Members: by unanimous votes: Peter Cherry (proposed RVD, seconded JAS); Roberto Risch (proposed MRE, seconded TB), and Jack Grasse (Proposed SB, seconded DF).
5.2 It was with deep regret that Members noted John Williams’ decision to retire from the IPG because his research interests had moved too far away from stone implement research. RVD read out a communication received from John explaining his decision, and thanking the IPG for its strong interest in, and support for, his research activities over many years. RVD summarized John’s achievements and contributions, and DF proposed a formal vote of thanks to John, which was carried unanimously. RVD was asked to write to John, expressing Members’ appreciation and sentiments.
5.3 RVD provided updates on Fiona Roe, AY and Heather Jackson.
5.4 RB was congratulated on his election to Fellowship of the Society of Antiquaries of London.
6. Officers’ Reports:
6.1: Chair: RVD went through his previously-circulated Report. The Chairman’s Report was accepted. RVD was thanked for his Report.
6.2: Hon Sec: MM presented Reports on the following substantive issues:
6.2.1 MM (and KW) explained the background to the HLF grant application. Members of the working group met five times during 2014, which included attending a HLF Workshop in Leeds during August and consultations with other advisors. The bid has been submitted to the HLF, and a decision expected in Spring 2014.
6.2.2. MM reported that the IPG database of stone tools published in SAS II and available via the CBA web site is being updated and cross referenced with the PPS Reports (1941, 1947, 1951, 1962, 1972). The core of the ultimate database is emerging, as is the need to start defining the data field and implement terminology in a robust manner. Terminology is being clarified and regularised into a standard format. Causes of error when identifying and recording implements are being identified, and corrected; for example, are implements assigned to groups on account of their similarity to a rock type or to axe petrology i.e. an axe/implement type specimen?
6.2.3 MM (and RVD) reported good progress on the preparation of The Atlas of Thin Sections of British and Irish Prehistoric Stone Tools. A historical context is being added to each group using the Reports published in PPS (1941, 1947, 1951, 1962, 1972), which enriches the catalogue and provides researchers with a reference to the dynamics of group evolution. The need to resurrect a national recording system was agreed. Checking existing records for published grouped and ungrouped implements listed in the SAS II catalogue has begun. The Hon Sec’s Report was accepted; MM was thanked for his Report.
6.3: Hon Treasurer: The Report was tabled. As at 2/1/14 the balance was £770.66. During the course of the year we spent £352.5: £102.5 to KW for travel expenses incurred in connection with the preparation of the HLF grant application; £60 to SB for the web; and £190 to RVD for the hire of St Olive’s Church Hall for our AGMs in Jan 2013 and Jan 2104. Income from subs was £274.12 including two life memberships.
TC drew attention to three issues with regard to subs:
a) most members have not updated standing orders/direct debits so have only paid £5. If this was rectified we would get in another £45; it might be more but some appear to have lapsed;
b) where cheques are sent in Euros we get only a proportion of the actual amount;
c) members from the Eurozone might, therefore, be encouraged to pay cash in sterling.
All agreed with PT, that it was necessary for the IPG to build up a healthy bank balance to support future publications and events. ACTION POINT: It was agreed that TC be asked, as a matter of urgency, to chase up all unpaid subscriptions. The Hon Treasurer’s Report was accepted; TC was thanked for his Report.
6.4: Hon Events Officer: PT outlined his rationale, and proposals for future Spring Field Meetings:
Seledin Brittany (Gp X) – Yvan Pallier, Serge Cassen & Alison Sheridan
Creag na Caillich (Gp XXIV) – Alison Sheridan & Mark Edmonds
Shetland – Gabriel Cooney, Torben Ballin
Stickle Tarn – Jamie Quartermaine
Whin Sill (Gp XVIII) – Vin Davis, Dave Field
An Edinburgh-based residential meeting, which might incorporate several site visits, including:
Biggar & Borders – Torben Ballin, Tam Ward, Rosemary Stewart
Den of Boddam flint quarries – Alan Saville
Cheviots – Dave Field & Pete Topping
Belgian flint mines
It was agreed to continue to hold the AGM, using the mini-conference format spread across two days, early in January each year, at a venue in York. The Report was accepted. PT was thanked for his Report.
7 Research & Development Reports:
The following Members reported on and answered questions about their current research interests. A summary of each presentation will be published in the IPG Newsletter Stonechat #1.
7.1 Rosemary Stewart on the geochemistry of chert implements and sources;
7.2 Katie Kewley on Manx stone axes
7.3 Kath Walker on stone tools and identity
7.4 Torben Ballin on some problems associated with lithic analysis
7.5 Peter Cherry on reassessing flint, chert and stone scatters from NW England
7.6 Roberto Risch on the mechanical testing of implement rock and sources
7.7 Onur Ozbek on Palaeolithic to Neolithic quarry and workshop sites on the island of Gokceada (Imbros) the biggest island in Turkey
7.8 Vin Davis on community archaeopetrology outreach workshops and fieldwork in NW England
Research currently in progress by PT, Lizzie Wilkes and Andy Young was noted, but not reported on at the Meeting.
8. Members’ Business:
Oral or tabled reports were received from the following Members. A summary of each report may be published in the IPG Newsletter Stonechat #1.
8.1 Project JADE 2: (JAS)
8.2 Shetland (Reibeckite Felsite) Project: (GC and TB)
8.3 Stonescapes Proposal: (CF)
8.4 Archaeopetrology of Stonehenge: (RB)
8.5 Orkney Prehistoric Stone Implements Project: (MRE)
8.6 Stainton West Excavation Lithics, Carlisle: (RVD)
8.7 St Kilda field visit opportunity: (DF)
8.8 Group VI revisited: RVD and MRE
9 Next Meetings:
9.1 The 19th Meeting: it was unanimously agreed that the 19th Meeting would be a residential field excursion to Brittany, from 12-16 May 2014. JAS and RVD agreed to contact French Members and other colleagues with known interests and expertise in stone tools and monuments, with particular reference to the dolerite quarry sites and products. It was hoped that Yvan Pallier might be available to arrange and lead the fieldwork programme. JAS was thanked for arranging low-cost, chateau-based accommodation locally; transport arrangements were put in place for those planning to participate.
9.2 The 20th Meeting (AGM): will take place, in York ,on the 10-11 January 2015.
10.1 The Society of Antiquaries have launched a three-year research grant scheme
10.2 Colin Richards has offered a presentation on his Easter Island research at the 20th Meeting.
10.3 Jamie Quartermaine has offered a presentation on the Stainton West Excavation at the 20th Meeting.
10.4 PT explained now the IPG might benefit through establishing closer links with the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS). The inevitable lack of context and site-specific information about stone implements submitted to the PAS was regretted but we might be able to endorse records of finds as they are submitted, thereby maintaining an accurate and up-to-date catalogue.